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Brocade First With 4-Gig, Last With CUP

ORLANDO, Fla. -- At the Storage Networking World tradeshow here today, Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) became the first major SAN switch maker to offer a 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel switch to OEMs. It also became the last vendor in its category to support Ficon Control Unit Port (CUP).

The 4-gig support is built into Brocades new SilkWorm 4100 family of 16-, 24-, and 32-port switches, which will eventually replace the SilkWorm 3900. Brocade also upgraded its Fabric Operating System (Fabric OS) with Ficon Control Unit Port (CUP) support for IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) mainframes.

Brocade is the only major switch vendor to have 4-Gbit/s switching ready for qualification by third parties. It's also the only switch maker to roll out new hardware this week. McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA), which laid out its hardware roadmap at its analyst day last month, will demonstrate its Intrepid 10K Director here, but its only new product releases involve upgraded management software. McData's new switch is due for release later this year.

Derek Granath, Brocade’s director of product marketing, says he expects the OEM qualification for the 4-gig Silkworm 4100 to be completed by the end of the year. He wouldn’t name the OEMs testing the switch, but Brocade’s major OEMs are EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), and IBM.

Granath admits that 4-gig won’t have any real use until next year, however. Although HBA vendors Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX) and QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) will demonstrate 4-gig interoperability with storage systems at the show, nobody is promising any 4-gig target systems or HBAs before the second quarter of 2005 (see Orlando Braces for Industry Storm).

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